Daniel Hildebrand’s road to photographic success in the music industry

At the age of 23, Daniel Hildebrand – pictured in a press shot – has photographed some of Australia's top music acts and has had his work featured in a slew of magazines. Photo: supplied.

The Sentinel meets Daniel Hildebrand – the photographic wunderkind who’s on his way to becoming one of Australia’s top music industry photographers. Interview by Tahli Blackman.

“In high school, I never thought that this was what I wanted to be,” says 23-year-old Perth-raised, Sydney-based music photographer and director Daniel Hildebrand.

“I always knew I was going to be creative, but I just didn’t know what that would look like. Since a young age I have been obsessed with bands. It’s embarrassing now but I used to like watching Nickelback’s crazy live performance clips on YouTube. I would also design single covers for made up bands, just out of my love for music.”

As Daniel started to find his feet in high school, he began listening to radio station Triple J and a love grew for his then favourite Australian band, San Cisco (who he has now worked with). Once he had graduated from high school, Daniel went to university to study marketing. During this time, he was doing photography on the side and taking photos at live shows for fun. He started to meet and surround himself with lots of people who were in bands, including Keiran and Ashton from Spacey Jane.

If you’re a fan of Australian indie band Spacey Jane, then you’ve probably heard the name Daniel Hildebrand before. Daniel has toured Australia with Spacey Jane and has filmed and edited some of their best music videos. He has also become a close friend to the band over the many years he has worked as their photographer.

“When I was producing work for another band in Perth, Keiran (Spacey Jane drummer and manager) approached me at a gig and asked me to start making promo videos for their songs,” Daniel tells the Sentinel.

“When they started making songs like ’Good For You’ – that’s when the shows started getting really serious.

“I’m super fortunate that Spacey Jane took me along for the ride. Where I am in my career is because of them.”

A press shot of Spacey Jane by Daniel Hildebrand. His work with the band, whose debut album Sunlight reached #2 on the ARIA Albums Chart in 2020, has spurred on his success. Photo: Daniel Hildebrand/supplied.

In late October 2021, Daniel launched his 100-page debut zine Paparazzi with an event at The Corner Gallery in Perth. The zine features four years’ worth of images, capturing the Perth music scene. The book features photos of many of the artists he has worked with as well as, you guessed it, lots of Spacey Jane. The images included are from moments on tours, press shots, live performances and music videos.

Paparazzi was my secret love letter to Perth. When I published it, I knew I was moving to Sydney, but I hadn’t told many people, so I was really using the event as a way of saying goodbye.”

Daniel says he approached the release of Paparazzi like it was a music project. The Corner Gallery, which has since shut down, was the only place in Perth that was an exhibition space as well as a concert space with a stage set up. On the night of his gallery showcase, Daniel had his zine for sale, as well as a bunch of prints exhibited on the gallery walls. He also had merchandise items that sold out quickly at the event.

Daniel’s 100-page zine Paparazzi, pictured, was released last year. Photo: Daniel Hildebrand/supplied.

“There was a Death By Denim DJ set, my good friend Grace Sanders played with her band and Noah Dillon played a set as well, so it was a very cool and exciting night for everyone I think,” he says.

“I like the idea of Paparazzi 2 and doing an exhibition in Sydney once I’ve gotten a good amount of work.”

In 2022, Daniel has built himself a portfolio featuring some of Australia’s best and brightest of music entertainment. These include Spacey Jane, Great Gable, San Cisco, Supathick, Noah Dillon, Death By Denim and countless more. His work has been published by Rolling Stone, MTV Australia, Pilerats and Walls Magazine.

Noah Dillon, as photographed by Daniel Hildebrand. Photo: Daniel Hildebrand/supplied.

Three months ago, Daniel decided to make the move from Perth to Sydney to further his career. He looks at Sydney-based photographers like Charlie Hardy, Jess Gleeson and his good friend Ruby Boland and is amazed by how many live shows they shoot.

“The east coast is so accessible for shooting gigs,” he says.

“I’m someone who always wants to grow and keep pushing myself to meet new people and do new things, so I’m excited to now be living in Sydney.”

The Covid-19 restrictions put in place for live shows in Sydney have not been ideal for music photographers. Fortunately, smaller live gigs have been going ahead in Sydney recently. Daniel has been keenly attending these shows with his camera in hand.

“The Pacific Avenue show that I was at on the weekend had a lot of great energy which I will remember for a long time. It was an awesome welcome to Sydney.”

Pacific Avenue photographed by Daniel Hidebrand at the Factory Theatre, Marrickville. Photo: Daniel Hildebrand/supplied.

Daniel is finishing his marketing degree off at UNSW this year. He says that most of the heads of labels and successful managers that he has met have studied marketing, so he is excited to see where he can go with his degree.

“Back in Perth we don’t have a lot of people reaching out from management and PR companies, so I’m enjoying being in Sydney because it’s like the hub of music.”

As for his future goals, Daniel would like to move more into the music industry by either working for a record label or a management company.

“Working with Spacey Jane and seeing how they broke out into the music industry taught me a lot. Even seeing how Keiran manages the band, which he does so well, was really inspiring.”

He also has goals of someday being able to go to Australia’s biggest music festival, Splendour In The Grass as a hired photographer. However, he doesn’t want to push his luck.

“I’m trying to make it in Sydney organically, I’m hoping to hop on as many tours as I can and see what happens from there.”

Follow @daniel__hildebrand on Instagram to see more images of his work.

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